Monday, October 8, 2012

It's A Miracle...

(Salt stalactite and stalagmite formations as they were growing, photo by Christy Hardin Smith.)

It is definitely that science fair time of year.  We have been growing stalactites and stalagmites in our sun room for a month. 

Mason jars, filled with three separate solutions, some string and a whole lot of drippage into those aluminum foil roaster pans you use for turkeys at Thanksgiving, just growing away, day in and day out.  All weekend long, The Peanut and her project partner worked on their poster display and their project abstract, with momma helping out with printing and glue dots here and there.  (It turns out that 9 year old girls are no better at keeping their fingers from getting stuck together than the 8 year old variety were.  Go figure.)

Thank goodness it is completed -- on time, no less! -- and we managed to get everything to school this morning without spilling or breaking it. 

It really is a miracle.

There I was, only a half a cup of coffee in my system, riding in the back of Mr. ReddHedd's SUV, holding onto these experiment trays for dear life, wincing at every bump and turn because they were  filled with jars with liquid and fragile stalactite and stalagmite formations suspended between them.


(All three trays as things were growing and growing.  Photo by Christy Hardin Smith.)

But we managed to make it over to school, and carried the trays into the building without too much hullabaloo.  We had put the aluminum foil roaster pans onto sturdier rimmed baking sheets last night.  Word to the wise:  start out with them that way, your life will be less stressful if you do when carrying time gets closer.

It ended up being a very fun project for the girls, and they have learned a lot watching this process develop over time.  

I helped initially with the hot water to prevent scorching of wee peoples.  We heated filtered water nearly to boiling in the microwave, and then the girls stirred together a saturated solution using three different types of materials that were then put into jars:  epsom salts, table salt and baking soda.  After that, I tried to take pictures for The Peanut every time she noticed something new, every few days or so -- we were terrified that moving the trays and jars would result in a disaster of epic proportions, so having some photos as proof that things grew seemed really important.  (As it turned out this morning, transport went remarkably well.  So yay for that!) 

Science is super cool at our house, still.  Especially when you can get the science safely up a couple of sets of stairs after driving on a pothole-ridden street for a few blocks.  Whew!

(Baking soda wicking up the cotton string and down the sides of the jar, too.  Photo by Christy Hardin Smith.)

If your child needs to do a science fair project, I highly recommend this one.  The Peanut and her project partner tested theirs using three different materials:  baking soda, epsom salts, and regular table salt.  The fun of watching everything grow right before their eyes was really a blast as a parent:  The Peanut would wake up every morning and race downstairs to see what had changed with her experiment. 

Very fun stuff, indeed. 

Although, I have to say, I am really relieved to have gotten everything to school safely.  The thought of everything crashing and being ruined has been haunting me a little bit the last few days.  So a big Whew!

(Epsom salts growing as a funky stalactite and stalagmite formation.  I loved how these looked -- like giant snowflake piles.  Photo by Christy Hardin Smith.)

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